Your Public Lands

I understand why some cultures made it a sin to refuse hospitality to a stranger.

And now I’m enjoying the hospitality of Sam Walton, in a parking lot in Gardnerville, Nevada. I had hoped to make it to Goldfield, but when I discovered that AT&T hasn’t bothered to put cell towers in rural Nevada, I said to hell with it. It turns out I don’t really like this open, basin and range high desert. It’s inhospitable and inhuman and, I was feeling, frankly absurd to try to live there. Four mile dirt driveways are for dedicated misanthropes. Plus, it seemed like potential death to go out on roads like this with no cell service, totally alone, no cars for long periods of time. I had four gallons of water with me, and wouldn’t have died, probably. Then I was really hard on myself for not being willing to have a real adventure. Argh. This adventure is partly, if not totally, about me doing whatever I want, when I want, and how I want. Please wish me luck with that.

This thumbnail shows most of yesterday’s route, but leaves out Oregon. Anyway, Gerlach, Nevada finally showed up, and wow. On the edge of two big playas, pure white dust on everything, it seemed, in combination with the exceedingly brilliant light thrown up from the playas on a cloudless day, like a totally new and unique kind of place. Until I came around a corner and saw all the older buildings co-opted by Burning Man folks, and done to a T with tasteful yet scruffy yet artistic and very very cool refurbishments. And I was not delighted. I did not choose to enter one. I saw the Burning Man Gerlach office, also in a picturesque, dusty old building. I just knew how many times in Portland I’d tried going into these amazingly cool, very aesthetically sophisticated establishments, and not really feeling satisfied, no matter how much I looked at things and tried to kick back and take it in. It was like air, eating air. It’s too planned, and that doesn’t seem to work for me after all, although I always admire the hip tastefulness.

Et voilà, as I pulled into the remnants of a Shell station with only bits of the yellow and red stripe telling me what it was, I saw to my delight that I had five bars of LTE signal. Almost like public utilities, courtesy of Your Tech Lords, who must like AT&T, since Verizon seems so… so working class, or is that just me?

I took the opportunity to call AT&T, and found out that rural Nevada is one of the states they don’t have much coverage in. She also said Nebraska was another. Yeah, I remember that from our last, less excellent, adventure. Not the cool kids, those people. Then I felt like a total hypocrite for refusing to use an app, or Google Maps (which I guess is an app) but I will plan my trip around my cell coverage. Wimp. But again, making this blog is SO FUN!! That’s what I want to do. I can’t do it without my LTE.

I needed to get Janet’s windshield cleaned off, because it had collected a lot of bugs in Oregon and California, so stopped at a station in Cedarville, where the nice woman offered to pump my gas and clean the windshield. When I got in, I saw she’d converted the bugs to gooey smears, the biggest of which was perfectly level with my eyes. I spent the drive to Gerlach (almost 100 miles) alternately hunching or stretching up to look over it. But the guy at the remnant station said he didn’t have any windshield cleaners because the Burners had taken them. Then a fellow in a a very dusty motorhome who had pulled in at the other pump and was wearing a black, Mad Hatter top hat and white Elton John sunglasses leaned out and said ‘I’ve got a couple’ and pulled out two for me to choose from.

Yesterday evening, after a little rain shower, I enjoyed the strong scent of sage and this view, from Walmart, of the Sierras. We’re going up there today.

You know, I had forgotten how easy paper maps are to use. You just pick it up and look at it.